blarg?

September 2, 2010

Toronto Downtown Cycling FAQ

Filed under: interfaces,life,lunacy,travel — mhoye @ 10:51 am

To Trains, Still

My bike has been my primary method of transportation lately and gets me where I’m going often faster and invariably with less hassle than a car or even the subway. This summer has been mostly good days for that and, even though somebody periodically somebody tries to kill me, it’s just so much better an experience that it seems like a fair trade. And as a bonus my bike isn’t a cold-war relic that breaks down all the damn time. But when I tell people that I bike in the city they seem astonished that any sane human would do that. Biking downtown, they say? Madness! And then the complaints about cab drivers start.

And that’s how I can tell those people don’t bike and, in all likelihood, aren’t very good drivers. It’s possible that I’m holding a minority opinion on this but I love taxi drivers. I love them to bits.

Cabbies are just about my favorite people on the road for one reason only: they are completely, utterly predictable. Look five meters ahead of a cab and you know what they’re going to do every time. That space they can turn into to win them an extra car length? They’re going there. That pedestrian with their hand up? Here comes a cab, right up snug to the curb. Braking with nobody in front of them? They’re going to stop and then that door’s going to open.

By and large they even signal. And they’re going to make that move every time; just assume it’s coming and roll with it. Compared to cabbies the alternative is so much worse.

Q: As a cyclist in Toronto, what is my threat model?

A:

  • Custom rims
  • Subwoofer
  • Baseball cap (any)
  • Spoiler
  • Custom paint job
  • Support ribbons (any)
  • Tiny woman, land-yacht SUV
  • Fat, moustachioed man, minivan
  • Aviator-style or larger sunglasses
  • One hand holding coffee
  • One hand holding cellphone

Perform a quick visual assessment of the cars around you; vehicles that meet any two of these criteria should be treated with due caution. Three or more and you should assume they’re actively trying to kill you.

Q: So, bike lanes?

A: There are none. Many wildly disjoint roads in Toronto have lines painted three feet from the curb and what appears to be a bicycle painted on the asphalt, but by convention these are reserved parking for service and delivery vehicles, police and parking enforcement officers. The city will also issue private contractors a permit to park in them at their convenience and you should expect any courier or cube-van you see to swerve directly into them and immediately stop. This is less inconvenient that you might think as these “paths” don’t actually go from anywhere to anywhere else.

Q: But bike paths, right?

A: Yeah, whatever. If you work somewhere on Lakeshore and maybe live under a bridge in the Don Valley then sure. Nobody who is not already a bicycle commuter gives even a fraction of a damn about cycling downtown.

Q: So can I get around on a bike, for real?

A: Ultimately the answer is yes, if you’re willing to act like a car. Take up a whole lane; you notice how police on bikes always ride side by side? Establish that you own the space around you. Don’t hug the curb or when you get cut off you’ll have nowhere to go. Signal when you need to change lanes, but don’t otherwise act predictably; a set precedent of scary randomness will earn you the wide berth you want. But be aware of your environment, 360 degrees of it, at all times. Travel light and agile and be able to make decisions fast. If you’ve got panniers or baskets or whatever behind your seat, then forget it; hug the curb, festoon yourself with lights and reflectors and pray that you live through the ride. If you’ve got any weight at all over your front wheel, panniers or grocery bags hanging off your handlebars then I hope your soul is prepared because you’re already a dead man.

You might get honked at now and then, but that doesn’t matter – in Toronto, car horns don’t mean “look out, I’m coming” or “pay attention, there is a car here”, they mean “Fuck you, I hate you and want you to die” – but my thinking in this is simple: let them hate, so long as they fear.

July 4, 2010

But We Can’t Do You Love And Rhetoric Without The Blood

Filed under: analog,interfaces,life,lunacy,mail,parenting,science,vendetta,weird,work — mhoye @ 11:09 pm

Been a while, hasn’t it? Well, I’ve been cogitating; sometimes that takes time. In particular, I might add, when people dump a dozen loosely-related ideas into your brain with no regard whatsoever for how much effort it will take you to sort them all out. If I were in a blame-shifting mood I’d be pointing at Dave, Luke, David and these dinners we periodically have, which should say I go into expecting a good meal and some stimulating conversation and leave feeling like a glutton who’s been tasered in the brain.

“Interesting” doesn’t scale without a fight, is I guess what I’m saying.

So let’s get right to the heavy stuff: let’s say, apropos of nothing, for argument’s sake, that “sin” is a explicit negative valuation of an act without immediate cost. Did I couch that in enough conditionals? Well, you’re the one reading it. Let that be a lesson to you then.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about belief, narrative and cost lately, and the idea of sins and punishment in economic terms. Not necessarily with respect to actual money, but more by borrowing the terminology of economics to frame some ideas. Some actions have costs, you know? And some of those costs aren’t obvious, or aren’t immediately accrued, but they’re nevertheless real. So let’s say, just for the sake of saying so, that social capital and political capital are real, and that to some extent you can treat them, or at least describe the space around them, a lot like regular old capital capital.

This is going to be shorter than I wanted, but I’ve been struggling to get this out of my system for weeks.

We understand this, viscerally, when we’re talking about personal debts. We get that with ideas like “playing fair” or “I cut, you choose”. We largely agree that justice worthy of the name isn’t arbitrary or capricious and that cruel and unusual punishment is bad. But there’s this whole class of acts that certain groups of people are proscribed from doing, not for any obviously consequential reason, but because for no reason anyone alive remembers, that’s a sin. Or a taboo, or proscribed, you just don’t do that.

So I’ve got this notion that the founding conceit of act thus labeled is likewise an economic one, an “externality“: a cost that is otherwise unaccounted for. In this context, a story of divine punishment for a sinful act isn’t going to be a literal occurrence any more than political capital is real capital, but in a sense it’s a price tag regardless – your act has a real cost, and in a full accounting you will be made to bear that cost. You may not accrue that cost yourself, maybe not today, and you might even come out ahead. But if everyone does it, then all this falls apart; it’s a price to avoid the perverse incentives that steer towards a “tragedy of the social commons”, for lack of a better term.

Oddly enough, to some extent a belief in the existence or agency of some final arbiter is irrelevant – it’s sufficient for a moral person to know those cost exists, whether or not they believe they will ultimately bear them. The implication being that sin can exist without religion, which is the kind of conclusion you get to reach when you’re just making up arbitrary sociocultural taxonomies on the fly.

But the cannier among you will be saying right now “who is everyone, and what is this ‘all this’ you speak of”, and my somewhat wishy-washy answer is “that depends”. If everyone-who-goes-to-church just stopped going to church on Sunday would Christianity be worse off? It’s hard to say, but the church-as-institution might. And to be clear I’m not saying that’s good, bad, relevant, indifferent or purple. I’m wondering about the things you’re just Not Allowed To Do, whether they’re proscribed by your religion or your church group or your workplace culture or the dirty looks your cats give you, and the notion that we shouldn’t just take these impositions for granted. What I’m really interested in looking at those situations through this lens and trying, at a minimum, to understand and account for real costs, of time, effort and goodwill. Mine and others’.

Have you seen Merlin Mann’s Time And Attention talk? You really should; it’s a great talk, and there’s a couple of bits in there that have been rattling around in my brain for weeks. There’s a pretty distressing number of great points in there, but there’s three I want to pull out for attention:

(1)

“If you don’t manage your time well, you won’t make great stuff. But if you don’t manage your attention well, you won’t make great stuff.”

(2)

“If I just grabbed you in the street and asked ‘what’s the most important thing in your life?’, you’d probably say your family or, your church group, or your career. Maybe your kid or your pet or whatever. And the thing is… in some part of your heart that’s absolutely true. But do you have a sense of how well your time and attention tracks to doing good stuff for that thing you say is really important? Do you have an internal barometer that tells you how well that’s going? In fact, is the thing you claim is important really important? Because if a lot of people looked at where their time and attention went, the parts they do have control over, it would look like the most important thing in their life was Facebook.”

And (3):

“Saying you have more than two priorities is like saying you have more than two arms. You still only have two, but now you’re also crazy.”

You should really watch the whole thing. I’ll get back to it shortly.

Somewhat Skeptical

Maya’s learning awfully fast these days in that scary, scattershot way that kids soak up the firehose of information the world points at them every day. And apropos narrative through the terminology of economics? Children’s stories, jeebus, here we go.

We’re very clearly getting close to the point where the stories I tell Maya stop being the random noises that Dad makes before she goes to sleep and start having words and sentences and eventually morals and significance in them, so I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the lessons she’ll hopefully learn from them. They may not be exactly what it says on the box, I’ve noticed; I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how these stories look from the child’s perspective, not least from that of a child being addressed by a parent.

It’s been kind of distressing at times.

Some kids’ books are more amusingly phonetic than instructive, some others are about the equally important learning to count (and even those ones impart some notion of value in what’s described as “good” or not) but a few of I’ve pretty much decided to stop reading to Maya on account of their completely ignoring their ostensible target audience in ways that end up seeming petty, mean, weird, creepy or worse.

Two in particular: “Guess How Much I Love You” (apparently a sentimental favorite in my family) has a moral which looks, from an adult perspective, to be about telling your child how much you care about them, but if you’re in that smaller chair comes across as “Guess How Much Smaller You Are Than I Am” which when you’re trying to plant the seeds of a moral framework is not exactly on-message. The other, “Runaway Bunny” is worse: in-house we refer to it as “Guess How Fast I’ll Fucking Find You”; put yourself in that other, smaller chair and yeah, it turns out when you’re trying to get the hell away from somebody it stops being loving and heartfelt and starts being weird and aggro-stalkerish.

“You should put up with that sort of person”, as a lesson for my daughter, is simply not on. Unfortunately the alternate ending where the big bunny gets a broken nose and a restraining order doesn’t seem to be in print. Alas.

I hope I’m not the only person who thinks this, but historically when I say that I am frequently informed that, yes, I am in fact the only person who thinks that. But people are vulnerable to narrative, especially young people, especially children. Maybe I’m being paranoid and overprotective; an odd thing for somebody who’s let his one-year-old play with his electric screwdriver but skinned knees heal, you know? Some ideas are forever. And while for the most part I think that vulnerability is a feature, not a bug, I still think I should be careful. People tell each other a lot of stuff that’s dumb or false or both just ’cause it’s entertaining or dramatic, sure. But it’s also how we learn, without each of us needing to rediscover it, that fire burns, steel cuts and even if the creepy guy offers you candy you don’t get into the van. And unless you’ve heard the story before, you might not know about (you guessed it) those hidden costs.

And here we are evaluating costs again.

You don’t have to be at any lofty height before this all starts to blur together, and that’s pretty much where I am now. I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out where my time and effort goes, where it doesn’t go, and making the costs of those tradeoffs as blindingly obvious as I can. I send a lot less email, and I’m cautious about what I do send, because there are these huge opportunity costs and externalities to imposing yourself on other people’s time. I’ve been trying to schedule short, sharp meetings with people, and ask them if they need it to book it with me. And when I go home, I go home; I lock my phone to keep myself from reflexively checking it during dinner, because email and twitter aren’t Maya and Arlene, and mostly look at work stuff until I get back to it the next day.

But mostly I’m trying to make 100% of my attention go, for real, and for real stretches of time, towards the stuff I think is actually important. And a big part of how I’m trying to do that is by doing my best to understand other people’s perspectives, to tell compelling stories about what’s important to me, and to act as though their time and effort and attention are as scarce and valuable as mine.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

May 20, 2010

Predictable Puffery

Filed under: a/b,interfaces,losers,lunacy,toys — mhoye @ 7:40 pm

Lilacs

I don’t know why I keep following links to Daring Fireball. Morbid fascination, I guess? But somehow I keep checking in now and then to see if he’s finally worked his way through all the copy-paste-and-one-line-of-snark he can live with, the methadone formula that drips through his blog and keeps him from cooking up the hit of a post we all kind of expect to see there one morning when he finally gives in to his demons.

“Lately, people have been telling me I’m wrong to give my life-sized cardboard cutout of Steve Jobs a head-to-foot tongue bath twice a day. They’re wrong; here’s why it’s brilliant. And necessary.”

Maybe I’m the only person who expects that? Could be, could be. But his signature style, if that’s the right word, can be pretty irritating – he copies and pastes so much, and says so little more than a sneer himself, that he can always deny that he meant anything by any of it.

Anyway, this will be the last time I mention it. I don’t want to spend any more time than I have reading a site that calls itself “Daring Fireball” and cranks out eminently predictable fluff day after day. But I though I’d point a thing out from back in 2006; sometime before he decided that drinking the kool-aid wasn’t as much fun as swimming laps in it, he said:

There’s an unbecoming tendency for some Mac users to contort their worldview in such a way so as to construe that Mac OS X is better than every other OS in every single way, or that its overall superiority ought to be obvious to everyone. This actually was true, or very nearly so, in the System 6 era of the late ’80s, but it certainly hasn’t been true since then; sticking to this notion just makes you look like a small-minded jackass.

True enough, true enough. But then in 2010, here we are. He quotes a work about Stanley Kubrick,

His eccentricities — secretiveness, a great need for privacy — are caused by his intense awareness of time’s relentless passage. He wants to use time to “create a string of masterpieces”, as an acquaintance puts it. Social status means nothing to him, money is simply a tool of his trade. Reminds me of someone else.

… where by “someone else”, he clearly means the subject of his cardboardy affection. He was right, back then – it is an unbecoming contortion, and I don’t think I’m going to spend any more time watching it happen.

May 16, 2010

The Power Of The Name

Walking home from an excellent dinner the other day the subject of the Name or True Name came up, a recurring idea in most fantasy literature; the idea that you have one True Name, pronounced just so, is both Yours and which has Power over you. It’s something that’s come up a lot in my thinking lately, as both a parent and as a sysadmin; part of my job, in both cases, is the granting of names.

Ominous

As a parent, the Name is something you hammer into your kid, over and over again, all the time. Whether it’s good or bad or encouraging or get away from there or don’t touch that, you always start with the name, and then the rest; Maya well done, Maya don’t do this, Maya we’re proud of you, Maya stop. For sysadmins, in contrast, naming machines is an underappreciated responsibility; machines develop personalities if you’re not careful, idiosyncrasies built on a history of patch levels, shifting roles, legacy software, environmental conditions and the habits and discipline of their administrators. In that sense as with parenting the subject is a living, evolving Rorshach test, ultimately becoming those things it is shown, and the ways it is treated.

If you’ve got a small shop, it’s OK if machines get a little quirky; resources get repurposed, your air isn’t always cool and dry, power isn’t always clean and sometimes you’ve got to put long-retired, senescent old warhorses back on the front lines because it’s turned into that kind of war. But in a big installation that’s something you just can’t afford, and we put thousands of hours of planning effort into preventing machines from getting finicky; those machines are culled from the herd fast, because idiosyncratic machines are a sign of deep-seated systemic problems. And when those problems finally surface they’re inevitably going to be horrible.

The Flight Out

And to some extent, the Name is the seed of all that; a machine called HP-WWW-DEV-RH4-R5-S11-A simply isn’t going to be permitted to develop a personality; it’s going to get treated very differently than a repurposed workstation called “Snorklewhacker”. And it occurs to me just now that maybe that’s the deeper reason for the old myth that you should never rename a boat; not so much that you shouldn’t rename it as you shouldn’t dramatically change your behavior towards it, forcing the hardware to bend and stress in ways it’s never had to before.

So I’m increasingly finding myself feeling very cautious about the tone of voice I use with Maya, particularly when I’m trying to teach her her own name at the same time as I’m trying to teach her not to throw food on the floor or herself down the stairs. She needs to know her name; it’s my responsibility to make sure she does. But it’s a Name, it’s hers, and it’s not to be invoked lightly or something she should be taught to fear; parents don’t exactly have the luxury of a bare-metal reinstall or cheap upgrades, it turns out.

March 27, 2010

Overshooting The Overton Window

Filed under: future,hate,interfaces,losers,lunacy — mhoye @ 10:02 pm

Reflected Sky 4

I haven’t seen these ideas together in one place, but I think it’s a noteworthy observation. Brought on by David Eaves’ recent link to an old post of his about why policy matters in politics, I thought I’d mention this:

The Overton Window is a brilliantly cynical public-policy manipulation tool named for its creator, who noted that “priming the public with fringe ideas intended to be and remain unacceptable, will make the real target ideas seem more acceptable by comparison. The degrees of acceptance of public ideas can be described roughly as:”

  • Unthinkable
  • Radical
  • Acceptable
  • Sensible
  • Popular
  • Policy

If you’ve been watching American politics recently, you might have thought that Ron Paul is obviously nuts but, well, y’know, he’s no Michelle Bachmann, so there is that. And yeah, that’s exactly how that works.

What he didn’t note is that from a practical standpoint this involves publishing, promoting, accomodating and legitimizing people who are completely fucking crazy, and those people don’t just disappear in a puff of frothing lunacy when you’re done getting your newly moderate-seeming views enshrined in law.

He also neglected to mention how quickly that can drag your entire party away from anything vaguely resembling rational policy towards a situation where dogmatic adherence to whatever the pants-on-head-craziest son of a bitch around feels like getting frothed up about is the most important thing ever.

So what ends up happening is you get your Republican Revolution, sure, but crazy guy and all his friends still have their podiums, newspaper columns or talk shows, and it’s probably the best gig the crazy guys will ever get so they’re going to ride it like a pony. And that’s what I think we’re seeing now in the US on the right side of the aisle; the degenerate case of Overton-style political machinations, the last vestiges of anything that isn’t gibbering insanity, crazy that can only beget more crazy.

Fred Clark has a great post up, about the intellectual drift that lets you coast downhill from lying to plain old black-helicopters-and-illuminati nuts, but I wanted to point out that this isn’t an accident – like most great evils, it’s not just about one person’s decision (though it is) or about another’s complicity (though it is), it’s also about the engine built up around those decisions that gives them weight and momentum, that makes it harder to stop or derail and eventually even steer the politics they advance. And in a country with hundreds of millions of people in it, there’s enough crazy around to keep that motor running an awfully long time.

Which is all to say, when you see brain-damaged demagogues like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann at the helm of what used to be a respectable political party, that’s all part of the plan. But that plan was designed by people without the foresight to understand what they’d put in motion.

Have a comment? The original article is here.

March 17, 2010

The Panoopticon

Filed under: awesome,lunacy,weird — mhoye @ 7:58 pm

The Abyss Googlies Also Into You

I have no great insight why this would be – a childhood watching Sesame Street and the Muppets, maybe? – but for some reason the tiny dose of anthropomorphic surrealism you get from finding a pair of googly-eyes looking at you from somewhere unexpected can turn a rough day all the way around.

Thank you, person-putting-googly-eyes-on-random-stuff-in-my-neighborhood. Whoever you are I salute you.

March 2, 2010

Agency

A friend of mine recently expressed some shock when I told him that I have no problem at all with my daughter playing video games, but I’d rather she not watch television. “Really”, he said?

Life Skills

Yeah, really. And the more TV hits me in the eyes the more convinced I am that I’m entirely in the right.

From a practical standpoint, video games have a lot of things going for them. They’re either in the house or they’re not, for one; you don’t worry too much about your kid stumbling over something with wildly objectionable content. And more importantly the content I find most objectionable about television is the advertising. Video games don’t by and large spend eight minutes of every half hour of use shivving advertising into your child’s eyes, which is unambiguously a win.

And they’re participatory! You can play games with your child, either by taking turns or cooperatively, and more and more of these games can be fun, rewarding experiences for all involved. When was the last time you were done watching television and thought, we did that? We beat the bad guys together, we finished that quest together, we win?

And if my daughter is ever going to drive a Lamborghini into a concrete wall at 250mph I’d rather it be in Gran Turismo, frankly.

More philosophically but also of tier-one importance to me is that video games (especially of the open-world variety) don’t just offer you a choice, but the act of playing them forces you to make choices. There’s no detached voyeurism here and you are not, either in which games you have or in actually playing them, absolved of your own agency in this process.

I’m sure that Mcluhanites or some other school of metamedia junkies have some better word for this, but medical and crime-scene dramas are just about the canonical example of what I’ve been referring to, for lack of a better term, as “agency porn”. Pretty, driven people with morals and ideals and goals on the screen, having these heavy emotional relationships the viewer can turn off with a button, doing ostensibly important work you’ll never do and periodically splattered with entrails that don’t belong to anyone you care about; pornography of a life of decision and consequences, instead of sex.

A Fistful Of Noodle

These things are consumed without the least input or interaction, uncritically. And I am 100% convinced that if you watch enough of these it skews your view of the world. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the startling rise of helicopter parenting, overprotectionism and the general pushback to letting kids have any kind of personal freedom has happened at the same time as these viscerally vivid crime dramas about child abductions and serial killers have moved towards being on TV 24/7.

I want no part of any of that. I mean, it’s hardly news that if you pick the right channels, you can watch CSI-alikes that makes A Clockwork Orange’s “ultraviolence” look like a pillowfight from noon to midnight on any given day, but just as an aside: Christmas day of 2009, A&E decided to run a 24-hour CSI marathon. 24 hours of murder-porn on Christmas day; way to go, A&E. I’m not saying it was better when I was a kid, because it wasn’t, but when I was a kid it also wasn’t possible to watch formulaic murder-porn nonstop through the Christmas holidays.

Sure, there are games like the Grand Theft Auto or Gears Of War series’ out there, but they’re big-kid games you don’t get free with basic cable. (In GTA3, you can just walk down to the hospital, take an ambulance and drive around picking people up and driving them back to the ER, if that’s what you really want to do. Which might be where all the chum they grind through in those medical dramas comes from, now that I think about it.) And I am not even a little opposed to the existence of games like the (awesome) God Of War series or (the awesome) Assassin’s Creed 2; I’m just saying that there a distinction to be made between pornography, art and harmless, healthy fun, as much in violence and its various portrayals as in sex, and an age to start finding out about all of it.

But it is critically important to me that Maya knows that what she sees on the screen is there by choice, and that she engages media in a way that allows and encourages choice. I think those choices are deeply hidden by regular television and I firmly believe that worse than the greed, the obscene violence and routine debasement, worse than the crappy writing and the idiotic commercials is the habit of passive acceptance cultivated by the viewer’s perfect inability to engage.

Science!

And I want to introduce her to this stuff on mom and dad’s schedule, deliberately, not by some accident of numbed channel surfing. And besides, when she thinks she’s ready (maybe, maybe not, maybe almost…) for something Dad doesn’t approve of? That’ll probably be a negotiation and a half, and an interesting day for sure. But she’ll have to go after it, it’s not just going to roll in here on its own.

Which will be kind of the point.

Have a comment? The original article is here.

February 9, 2010

The Eternal Recurrence Of The Same

Filed under: academic,books,digital,doom,fail,future,interfaces,losers,lunacy,vendetta — mhoye @ 3:28 pm

Eastward From Spadina

Oh, god. Via the New York Times:

Google has been talking about entering the direct e-book market, through a program it calls Google Editions, for nearly a year. But in early discussions with publishers, Google had proposed giving them a 63 percent cut of the suggested retail price, and allowing consumers to print copies of the digital books and cut and paste segments. […] According to several publishers who have been talking to Google, the book companies had balked at what they saw as Google’s less generous terms, and basically viewed printing and cut-and-paste as deal breakers.

Which is to say, “we intend to collude to force our customers to pay more for something with which they will be permitted to do less.” Honestly, that’s your plan? Your business is text, and cut and paste are dealbreakers?

With a plan like that, what could possibly go wrong?

Good luck, publishers. Don’t let the future hit you on the ass on the way out.

January 8, 2010

On The Verge

Filed under: awesome,lunacy,parenting — mhoye @ 3:05 pm

Boo

Maya’s just on the verge of crawling. She’s got all the parts of crawling, she just hasn’t figured out how to put them together yet. I’m rooting for her.

“Come on, Maya, get there! Eye of the tiger, Maya! Eye of the tiger!”

“She doesn’t know what that means. I don’t know what that means.”

“Eye of the Tigger, Maya! Eye of the Tigger!”

“What?”

“Eye of the Tigger!”

“Leave her alone, you freak.”

December 23, 2009

Dear Former Homeowners Redux Redux Redux Redux Redux

Filed under: doom,fail,hate,interfaces,life,losers,lunacy,vendetta — mhoye @ 5:46 pm

Valves

We came home the other day to the delightful, cheery smell of a house full of propane.

It turns out that even though boring old building codes say your gas meter should be at least an inch away from adjacent surfaces, our former homeowners apparently needed that inch real bad, so ours was right up against the brick.

Now, bricks, you might know because you’re smarter than those very bricks, are water-porous. And if you give it enough time, that water does very exciting things to common household items like, to pick one entirely at random, gas meters.

When the Enbridge guy came (quickly and well-equippedly, I should add, which made me very happy) to find the leak a piece of the back of the meter just scraped off in his hands, corroded right through. This was easily dealt with as these things go, fortunately, because we’re in the middle of a basement reno. The washer and dryer were out of the way, so he had easy access to it to the main.

As part of that basement reno, we’ve replaced said old washer and dryer. And just moments ago, the fellow I gave the dryer to tells me that he believes the dryer will be much more efficient, now that he’s pulled the rust-stained, half-scorched hand towel out of the vent pipe. The burn marks on it seem to indicate that there has at least once actually been a fire there, isolated to the vent pipe in which he found it.

That vent pipe ran up right next to my gas main on its way out the side of the house.

Dear former homeowners, I hate you so much. Every now and then I stop what I’m doing and just take a moment to hate you just a little bit more. If I thought really hard about you, bile would bleed from my eyes.

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